According to a report, appearing in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, researchers investigated a 32-year-old woman’s diagnosis of cervical cancer, 2012. The doctors assigned to her case, asked for a PET/CT fusion imaging scan for further evidence of cancer metastasizing. Administering the necessary radioactive tracer to indicate the presence of tumors, the scan produced evidence of her cervical tumor, but indicated what appeared to be cancer metastases of her pelvic lymph nodes, as indicated by illuminated areas within the scan image.
The woman underwent surgery for the removal of the cervix, pelvic lymph nodes, fallopian tubes and uterus. During a post-surgery, microscopic review of the woman’s lymph node cells, the doctors were astounded to find that the lymph node cells did not contain evidence of cancer, but instead, deposits of tattoo ink, as a result of the 14 images that were tattooed on the woman’s legs.
The study co-author, Dr. Ramez Eskander, assistant clinical professor of gynecologic oncology at the University of California, Irvine Medical Center, who treated the woman indicated, “Those lymph nodes that were lighting up brightly on the PET scan were doing so because of the tattoo pigment that was in the lymph nodes,”
“Findings of possible metastatic disease on PET scans can certainly change management,” Eskander said. “We want to make sure that people understand that these false positives could potentially arise in patients that have tattoos,” Steve Murray remarked.